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Historic with a Touch of Modern: Tips to Renovating an Old House

Any home that is at least 50 years old, is considered historic property. As charming as historic spaces can be, they need maintenance. The realities of renovating an old house and modernizing it to current needs - can be challenging.

The decision to purchase an old home usually has a good reason behind it: either sentimental, or for the love of tradition. Therefore, most people will want to preserve traditional building when renovating, giving it a contemporary twist. It’s a delicate balance of conservation motivations with practical needs, budget, and what's required for modern living.

At YMH Atlanta we suggest our clients to preserve their house many period details instead of giving it a strictly contemporary overhaul. We want to understand the existing plan, context and architecture, and then look for places to sensitively upgrade for modern living.



Pre-renovation general inspection

First things first: it's important to assess the condition of your home. Before even thinking about doing anything aesthetically, have an inspector check the existing systems and structures: from the foundation all the way to the roof. Electricity, plumbing, walls and windows should be inspected as well.

Plan and budget your project, and add an estimate of 20% additional costs for hidden surprises that you won't discover until you start really digging in. It is common for historic houses to have layers from previous renovations. To do it right, you have to peel them back to really understand what's going on.


Mix old with new


Our favorite way of preserving tradition in the interiors, is maintaining period detailing during the constructions. Old homes tend to have high-quality woodwork flooring, and when in good shape our recommendation is to restore them and give them new life with a modern colored varnish. If the windows are in good shape, we will repair and paint them so they will stay in use.

A delicate way to modern a house is to change its inner layout: common future in old houses are multiple small separate spaces, such as: kitchen, breakfast room and family room. If possible, we open them up to one open space that reflects the modern family lifestyle.

We then layer the modern twist in the finishing touches, such as: tiles, countertops, light fixtures, wallpapers etc.

When renovating an old house, we lean towards a natural color scheme that is timeless. Light colors are fresh, bright and gives the illusion of more space. You can go wild with furniture and decorations, when the basics are neutrals.

Incorporate vintage pieces with contemporary design furnishings to make the house feel collected and soulful. Good design transcends time! and the beauty is in the contrast.

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